25 | MAY | 2019
Scientists discover microdiamonds in Puebla, Mexico
Mexico is one of the countries with the most rock outcrops in the world (more than 20), many of which can be found in the ocean - Photo: Taken from UNAM's official website

Scientists discover microdiamonds in Puebla, Mexico

23/04/2019
16:53
Sebastián Pérez Sánchez
Mexico City
-A +A
This finding could help industries produce synthetic diamonds at less extreme temperatures and pressure

In cooperation with an international team of scientists, Antoni Camprubí and Vanessa Colás Ginés, from UNAM’s Geology Institute (IG) have discovered an upwelling of microdiamonds in chromites, a mineral composed of iron and chrome, in the Tehuitzingo municipality of the Mexican State of Puebla.

Though the diamonds cannot be extracted due to their size (an average of three microns per piece), microdiamonds are if great geological value, since they enable scientists to study ancient materials in the Earth’s mantle, an internal layer between the core and the crust.

The discovery also shows that said minerals are able to form at a lower temperature and pressure than was thought before, according to Colás Ginés, member of a team of scientists from Spain, Australia, Peru, Sweden, Germany, Cuba, and Mexico. The results of their research were published in the Geology scientific journal.

This finding could help discover a way for industries to produce synthetic diamonds at less extreme temperatures and pressure, which would considerably lower their market cost, the expert explained.

How are microdiamonds formed?

When a subduction process occurs in the Earth’s crust—when one plate moves under another and is forced to sink due to gravity into the mantle—, it is believed that the subduing material is recycled within the mantle and then reemerges. Microdiamonds can be found among these micro-inclusions of minerals and different materials.

Mexico is one of the countries with the most rock outcrops in the world (more than 20), many of which can be found in the ocean.

Said diamond deposits are called diatremes, which are volcanic pipes formed by a gaseous explosion. When magma rises up through a crack in the Earth’s crust and makes contact with a shallow body of ground water, rapid expansion of heated water vapor and volcanic gases can cause a series of explosions. A relatively shallow crater is left and a rock filled fracture in the Earth’s crust. These explosions can often engulf diamonds and bring them up to the surface without them decomposing or transforming into graphite, which is the carbon form most often found in nature.
 

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